Gemstone Information 2023
Check out our quick glance guide to gemstones - perfect to get you started on your gemstone jewellery journey
A huge rectangular cabochon cut white and black dendritic agate cocktail ring
Dendritic agate is a variety of grey-white chalcedony, noted for its beautiful fern-like inclusions (called "dendrites") which are actually made from traces of manganese or iron. Being around 7 on the MOHS scale, this lesser known type of chalcendony agate is hard wearing and durable, whilst the stunning patterned inclusions are completely unique and individual to each piece of jewellery.
An amazonite cocktail ring with small orange topaz accents on the shoulder.
A beautiful variety of microcline (in the feldspar family), amazonite ranges in colour from green hues to turquoise blue shades to pale blue. Although named after the Amazon river, it's not actually found there (though can be found in South America, amongst other places). Whilst one of the lesser known gemstones, amazonite has been used in jewellery for thousands of years; adornments containing this beautiful gem has even been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. With a MOHS hardness of around 6 to 6.5, it's a little on the softer side compared to some of the better known gems, so it's best not to store it directly against harder gems such as sapphires, topaz, quartz or diamonds, which could scratch it. Amazonite is sometimes used as an unusual alternative to turquoise for December's birthstone, and is increasingly being worn in celebration of spring and summer seasons due to its uplifting blue-green colour.
A variety of cut and polished amethyst gemstone shapes in various shades of purple and lavender
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, ranging in shades from light lavender to deep violet. It's been used in jewellery for thousands of years; some ancient cultures wore it in the belief it offered protection, it was loved by royalty due to its luxurious purple colours, whilst the ancient Greeks believed it prevented drunkenness! Amethyst's distinctive hue come from traces of iron and natural irradiation, and being 7 on the MOHS hardness scale means it's a durable stone which can be worn regularly (though do note that prolonged sun-exposure can occasionally fade the colour of some amethyst stones over time - this is a natural occurrence and has to do with the way UV light interacts with the chemical composition of the stone). Amethyst can be worn by everyone, and is a birthstone of February, the 6th year wedding anniversary stone, and is the State Stone of South Carolina, USA.
A trilogy ring made from three orange-grey andalusite gemstones
Andalusite is sometimes known as the 'fall' or autumn' gemstone, due to its beautiful colouring of subdued fawn browns, yellows, burgandy, smokey pinks, rustic greys, and russet oranges. It is one of the lesser known gems; whilst it is not uncommon as a mineral, gem-quality specimens are harder to come by. Andusalite is also strongly pleochroic, which means that it displays different colours when seen from different angles. Being 6.5 to 7.5 on the MOHS hardness scale, this unusual and desirable gemstone is safe to wear in jewellery, and is a fabulous addition to any gemstone collection.
Anyolite (a.k.a ruby zoisite)
A member of the zoisite family (of which tanzanite and thulite are also members), anyolite is a beautiful metamorphic rock which contains chromium-rich green zoisite, hornblend (the dark black-green looking speckles) and red-pink speckles of ruby. Discovered in Tanzania in the 1950s, the stone is a popularly used for ornamental carving, and increasingly desired as a gemstone due to its unique patterns and colouration. It's between 6 to 7 on the MOHS hardness scale, and like tanzanite is only found in Tanzania (there are rumours of some small deposits being found in the USA and Austria but I can't get this confirmed). Anyoilte is often confused with a similar looking stone called "ruby in fuchsite", though with practice they are easy to tell apart - ruby-fuschsite is much softer (being only around 3 on the MOHS hardness scale), lacks the black-looking speckles of hornblende that anyolite has, and any ruby areas have a noticeabl e small band of blue/ darker green kyanite around them (which anyolite doesn't).
A graduated bead necklace, made from opaque teal blue apatite gemstones
Though apatite is a common mineral, many people still haven't heard of this beautiful gemstone. It comes in a wide range of colours and up until quite recently was probably better known as a mineral collectors stone than jewellery gemstone. Perhaps this is because it has a hardness of only 5 on the MOHS scale, making it quite soft and in need of a little extra TLC when setting into jewellery (ie, apatite is not a gemstone that enjoys being roughly handled or worn every day). However, owning a piece of apatite jewellery is well worth it - the colours of apatite are truly unique, and personally I find it to be a wonderfully tactile gemstone to gently touch, hold and wear.
A trilliant cut pale blue aquamarine set into a gold ring
Aquamarine is the blue to blue-green member of the beryl family of gemstones, its gorgeous ocean blue colouring being caused by trace amounts of iron. The name is derived from the Latin 'aqua marina' ('water of the sea'), and this beautiful gem has a legendary traditional connection with water in many cultures around the world. Being 7.5 to 8 on the MOHS hardness scale means it can be worn regularly, and only needs a gentle clean with warm soap and water. As well as being one of the worlds most desirable gemstones, aquamarine is a traditional birthstone for March, the 19th anniversary gemstone, and is a state stone for Colorado, USA.
A stunning five stone sparkling yellow chrysoberyl ring
One of the more unheard of gemstones, chrysoberyl is a stunning stone for gem lovers add to their collection. Popular in the 19th Century, this beautiful and (in my opinion) underrated gem is seeing a resurgence in desirability again. Chrysoberyl comes in yellow to green colours, and has more of an icy glow than ultra bling sparkle of many of the more well known gems - perfect for those who love coloured stones but want a more understated contemporary look. Being 8.5 on the MOHS scale, it's an extremely hard and durable stone that can be worn every day. Chrysoberyl is ideal for those who are looking for a beautiful yellow gemstone, but desire something that's a little more unique and different to what's normally on offer in the jewellery world.
A chrysoprase beaded gemstone necklace, showing its many shades of green
Chrysoprase is a beautiful green gemstone that's quite unknown outside of mineral and high end gemstone circles. Often seen in the finest jewellery houses, chrysoprase is a sought after variety of chalcedony. Whilst many green gemstones get their colour from traces of iron, chromium or vanadium, chrysoprase is unusual in that its distinctive colour comes from traces of the element nickel. Used since ancient times in jewellery, it was sought after in East European regions during the Middle Ages and was a desirable gem to set into jewellery during the Victorian and Art Deco periods. Chrysoprase is a hard and durable gemstone (around 7 on the MOHS scale) and top quality pieces could almost be mistaken for the finest jadeite (so much so it's often incorrectly referred to as 'Australian Jade', even though it's not a jade in any way). Chrysoprase is a birthstone for May and an 18th wedding anniversary stone.
A cabochon cut blue dumortierite gemstone ring
Dumortierite is a beautiful opaque blue gemstone, with a hardness of 7 to 8.5 on the MOHS scale. Often mistaken for the more common (and much softer) sodolite and lapis lazulite gems, its hardness means it is durable and safe to wear every day. Dumortierite was named after the French paleontologist Eugène Dumortier (1803–1873), and is quite an unusual gemstone to see set into jewellery.
A beautiful five stone chrome diopside gemstone ring
One of the more unheard of gemstones, diopside was discovered by naturalist José Bonifácio de Andrada circa 1800. It comes in shades of black to rare violets and pale blue, but is best known as a green gem (getting its colour from traces of chromium, hence its name chrome diopside); from bright vivid rich forest hues to darkest olive tones, diopside packs an earthy natural hue. Being only 5.5 to 6.5 on the MOHS scale, it benefits from more gentle wear and handling than some other stones, along with being stored away with care. Chrome diopside is the perfect gemstone for those who are looking for a beautiful green gem that's a little more unique and different to what's normally on offer in the jewellery world.
A white dolomite rock beaded necklace
Also known as dolostone, dolomite-rock is a sedimentary rock that contains the mineral dolomite. Often found in beautiful mountain locations around the globe, it's more associated with use outside of the jewellery world, from carving ornaments to its use as an aggregate in industrial settings. Dolomite is an unusual stone to see set into jewellery, especially if it's in bead form. Being around only 3.5 to 4 on the MOHS scale means it needs a little more TLC than some other stones, as it can be prone to scratching; keep it wrapped up in a soft cloth when not in use to help prevent this. Dolomite rock is perfect for those who are looking for a beautiful white stone that's a little more unique and different to what's normally on offer in the jewellery world.
A gold antique Victorian brooch, set with emerald gemstones
Probably the world's best known green gemstone and revered by royalty throughout the world for millennia, emerald is the a green member of the beryl mineral family. Its rich royal colours are caused by containing impurities of chromium or vanadium; traces of iron may also affect the hue, giving more bluish-green tones (note: pale or light green varieties are called simply green beryl, which is a gorgeous gemstone in its own right). Inclusions are quite normal in emeralds, and as they have a hardness on the MOHS scale of 7.5 to 8 they are suitable for every day wear. Emeralds are a traditional birthstone of May, and a 20th, a 35th and 55th anniversary stone.
A fluorite beaded gemstone necklace, with large banded yellow and purple fluorite pendant
For such an exquisitely beautiful gemstone, the name 'fluorite' has rather unglamorous origins, the word being derived from the Latin term 'fluere' (Eng: to flow) .. yes, fluorite was originally used as a flux in olden day iron smelting! Nowadays, gemstone connoisseurs love this collectors gem for its range of spectacular colours, from rich vivid purple and blues, to sublime spring greens and yellows - there's even a rare type that changes colour depending on the type of light it's under. In the 19th Century, when UV / light spectrum's were being discovered by science, the term 'fluorescent' was named after fluorite, due to some specimens glowing under certain light conditions (though note that a lot of fluorite does not glow under UV light; only those specimens which have traces of particular elements exhibit a glow). Fluorite is a soft gemstone, being only 4 on the MOHS hardness scale, so is not really suitable for robust daily wear as it may scratch and chip over time (less often/ occasional wear is fine). Care: store it away from other gems to avoid it being scratched, wrap it up well to avoid prolonged exposure to the light (some fluorite will fade if kept in direct sunlight for a long period of time) and clean by gently wiping it with a damp cloth, drying immediately afterward.
A pair of earrings, with bronze leaves and garnet gemstones that have been crafted to imitate a bunch of grapes on a vine
Whilst best known for its deep red colour, the garnet family of gemstones is vast and one of the most complex in the mineral world. This beloved gem comes not only in red, but in green, black, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and even varieties where it changes colour depending on the light conditions! Garnet is also one of the worlds oldest used stones for jewelry - it's been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, and for centuries in many places worldwide it was worn in the belief it might protect the wearer from injury. Garnet ranges in hardness from around 6.5 to 7.5 on the MOHS scale depending on the variety, so some types would benefit for gentler handling and storage care. Garnet is the birthstone for January, the 2nd year wedding anniversary stone, and is the state stone of New York, USA.
A solitaire ring set with a small colourless goshenite gemstone
Goshenite is the clear colourless variety of the beryl group (the same group that has emeralds, which are a specific type of green beryl and aquamarines - a specific type of pale blue beryl; note that while they are all from the same mineral group, they are different in composition and shouldn't be confused with each other). Named after Goshen, in Massachusetts USA, where it was found (it's found in many other places around the world too), in past times it was sought after to make top quality lenses for magnifying glasses and eye spectacles due to its hardness and superb clear clarity. More recently, it is enjoyed as an unusual alternative to other colourless stones types such diamonds - gem lovers are enchanted by its unique subtle distinctive icy glow. Goshenite has a MOHS hardness of around 7.5 to 8, making it durable and a great choice for daily wear.
A silver pendant set with small yellow heliodor gemstones
Yellow beryl, also known as heliodor, is the yellow variety of the beryl group (the same group that has emeralds, which are a specific type of green beryl and aquamarines - a specific type of blue beryl; note that while they are all from the same mineral group, they are different in composition and shouldn't be confused with each other). Though quite common, heliodor in the jewelry world is more of the specialist collectors gemstone; for some reason it never took off like other beryls did (which I find perplexing as for me it's possibly the prettiest yellow gemstone there is). The beautiful colour of heliodor is caused by the presence of iron, and the hues range from exquisite pale yellows to rich golds and even yellow-green varieties. Yellow beryl has a MOHS hardness of around 7.5 to 8, making it durable and a perfect choice for daily wear, and like other member of the wonderful beryl family of gems, has a more of a distinctive inner shiny glow, rather than disco-ball fiery sparkle - making it perfect for anyone who adores a more subtle and understated look to their gemstone jewellery.
Iolite gemstone raw beads, showing their pleochroism effect from purple to grey, depending on the light angle.
Iolite (derived from the Greek word “ios”, meaning “violet") is the blue-purple variety of the mineral cordierite. It is a pleochroic gemstone, meaning that it appears different colours depending on the angle of the light (from blue violet to clear, grey and even earthy shades of brown-yellow). Legend has it that iolite was used as an early navigation tool by the Viking's due to its polarizing properties; when viewing a scene through a thin sliver of iolite, Viking's realized it could remove haze, mist and could even pin point the sun on an overcast day. Whilst iolite is a good 7 to 7.5 on the MOHS hardness scale, it should be treated with care as it can be a little susceptible to cracking if knocked very hard, and should only be cleaned with tepid soapy water as it is heat sensitive (interestingly, this property also means iolite is almost always natural and rarely heat-treated by the industry as it would destroy the gem, unlike for example, tanzanite or sapphires etc which are often heat treated to change or enhance their colour). Iolite is a traditional 21st anniversary stone, and is becoming increasingly popular as a modern birthstone for September.
Top photo shows a labradorite with golden sheen labradorescense, the bottom photo shows blue labradorescense on some beads
Adored for its stunning play-of-colour called 'labradorescense', labradorite is a member of the feldspar family and comes in muted hues of grey and grey-beige, which set a fantastic backdrop to the flashes of ultra brilliant colours that are produced when the gemstone is viewed from certain angles. Named after the Canadian province of Labrador (where it is sometimes found) labradorite has ancient mythological associations with the beautiful aurora borealis, whilst some cultures believed it to represent a bridge between the earth and heavens. At between 6 to 6.5 on the MOHS scale it's not as hard as some other gemstones; a good way to protect it when not being worn is to keep it wrapped up in soft cloth so it doesn't get potentially scratched. Labradorite has an almost ethereal otherworldly appearance, and is perfect for those who love to own something a little more unique and different.
A rectangular cabochon cut larimar gemstone on filigree silver ring
The first time I ever saw larimar, I couldn't help wondering to myself why this beautiful gemstone wasn't more well known - I was totally enchanted by it! Sometimes called the "Gem of the Caribbean" due to the fact it is only found in the Dominican Republic, larimar is a stunning stone with rich turquoise to pastel blue colour mottled patterns, with each each piece being completely unique. Being only around 4.5 to 5 on the MOHS scale means that it's not as hard as some other gemstones; a good way to protect it's when not being worn is to keep it wrapped up in soft cloth so it doesn't get potentially scratched.
Larimar's beautiful colour has long led to it being associated with water and the sea, while some traditions associate it the March/ April months of the year because larimar colours often resemble the springtime blue sky; more recently turquoise-colour larimar is occasionally being used as a more unusual alternative to the December birthstone turquoise. One thing's for sure, when you first set your eyes on larimar, you may find yourself asking that same question I did all those years ago - "why haven't I heard of this gemstone before?"!
A grey larvakite bead necklace, on titanium wire
Larvakite is a type of igneous rock, valued for its distinctive subtle glowing blue to white shimmer when it catches the light (layers of feldspar present in larvakite give it the characteristic silvery sheen). More usually used in decorating luxury buildings, larvakite is increasingly being seen in the jewellery world, giving a modernist and grounded look to creations.
Malachite comes in many rich shades of green, along with beautifully unique patterns
Mined as early as 4000BC by the Egyptians, malachite is one of the world's best loved and most recognizable green gemstones. Whether carved into ornaments, polished into beads, ground into powder for rare art pigments or even chiseled into huge decorative objects, it's as popular and desirable now as it was millennia ago. Whilst superficially appearing similar to some types of agate due to its banding patterns, malachite is a gemstone all of it's own, and is one of the softer gems regularly used in jewellery (being only around 3.5 to 4.5 on the MOHS hardness scale), so benefits from being stored away from other jewellery and only an occasional light clean with warm soapy water. Malachite is a traditional gemstone for 13th anniversaries.
A long beaded mookaite gemstone necklace, displaying all the rich colours mookaite comes in
Relatively unheard of outside gemstone and mineral circles, Mookaite is a beautiful sedimentary rock found around the Mooka Station area of Western Australia, and is renowned for its unique rich earthy colours which range from rich mahogany red and mustard yellow, to soft earthy pinks, fawns and creamy whites. With a hardness of around 6 to 7 on the MOHS hardness scale, mookaite is a versatile gemstone and makes good choice for regular wear and its gorgeous range of unique earthy colours makes it a truly classic and stylish stone to own.
A trilliant cut pink morganite gemstone gold ring
Morganite is the pink variety of the beryl group (the same group that has emeralds, which are a specific type of green beryl and aquamarines - a type of blue beryl; note that while they are all from the same mineral group, they are different in element composition and shouldn't be confused with each other). Discovered in the early 20th Century, morganite is named after the famous banker J.P Morgan, who was an enthusiastic gem collector. The beautiful colour of this gem are caused by the presence of manganese, and the hues range from exquisite pale pinks to rich peach salmon shades. It has a MOHS hardness of around 7.5 to 8, making it durable and a perfect choice for daily wear.
Close up of a snowflake obsidian bead necklace, the obsdian part is black, while the speckled grey and white bits on each bead are inclusions of cristobalite.
Obsidian is a type of natural volcanic glass and is classed as an igneous rock; it was formed when lava cooled so quickly that crystals didn't have time to form. Black obsidian is the most well known of colours, though it also comes in shades of brown or green too, along with stones that have gorgeous effects, such as sheen obsidian (which shimmers a lovely muted golden tone when it catches the light), snowflake obsidian (which has white inclusions of cristobalite) and rainbow obsidian which has stunning colourful iridescence. Obsidian has been used since earliest human times, where it was fashioned into razor sharp cutting tools (cool fact: obsidian knives are still used today by some medical surgeons). Being only 5.5 on the MOHS hardness scale means it's not as hard as some other gemstones and it occasionally can be a little on the brittle side; try to avoid knocking it or heavy wear, and when being stored it's best to keep gently it wrapped up in soft cloth so it doesn't get potentially scratched. Obsidian is a beautiful gemstone for people who like something a little more different and unique to what's normally on offer in the jewellery world.
Photos show varieties of opal, from top is Ethiopian, middle is Australian, and bottom in fire opal from Brazil
Used in jewellery for millennia, and regarded by many as one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world, opal comes in a variety of appearances, from the famous iridescent flashes of colour seen in Ethiopian and Australian opal, to the lesser known fire opals of South America (which often have bursts of fire within rather than shimmers of colour, when they catch the light), to the exquisite muted hues of 'potch' or common opal, which come in gorgeous pastel colours of opaque blue, pink, yellow and green, and show no iridescence or fire at all. Opal can be a little on the fragile side (and 5 to 6.5 on the MOHS hardness scale), but with a bit of extra care can be kept top condition for years to come; try to keep your opals away from other gemstones when being stored so they won't get scratched, avoid knocking them as this can sometimes crack the stone, and it's best not to expose them to sudden extreme temperature changes. Opal is a birthstone for October, the 34th anniversary stone, and the national stone of Australia.
Top photo shows a black freshwater cultured pearl and garnet necklace, the bottom photo shows a rare antique citrine brooch, with natural pearls
Known as the Queen of Gemstones, the history and legend of pearls goes back millennia, and is so fascinating that it's far beyond the scope of these few paragraphs - instead, why not grab yourself a cosy drink and type 'history of pearls' or 'pearl facts' into your search engine, and spend the next few hours marveling at what you discover! For instance, did you know that Julius Caesar was a pearl connoisseur and legend has it that one of the reasons he invaded Great Britain for its famous river pearls? Or that after World War 1, women across all walks of life donated one of their pearls to create a series of necklaces. which were auctioned to raise funds for the Red Cross, in one of the first acts of national war remembrance? Or that Cleopatra dissolved a pearl [apparently valued at around £3 million in today's money] in wine and drank it, to claim the title of having the most expensive meal of all time?
Modern pearls remain deeply sought after, and are nowadays more likely to be farmed in pristine lakes and sea areas than found by a luck of nature. As the mussels that provide pearls can only thrive in clean unpolluted water, pearl farming should be done in environmentally friendly way - good pearl farmers know that the cleaner and more ecologically balanced the water the better quality the pearl, and thus, the more valuable it is.
Pearls are the birthstone for June, both the 3rd and the 30th wedding anniversary stone, and throughout history have been the gem of choice for royalty and nobility around the world.
A graduated bead necklace, made with round pale green prehnite gemstones
Prehnite has traditionally been known as the first mineral to be named after a person (Colonel Hendrik von Prehn, in the 18th Century). It comes in a variety of colours, from colourless to orange, yellow, and even blue, but is best known for its pale glowing green specimens. Up until fairly recently it was more of a collectors mineral, however newly discovered deposits have enabled it to be used for ornaments and gemstones. Prehnite has a hardness on the MOHS scale of 6 to 6.5, with a distinctive semi-transparent 'cloudy' or 'velvety' appearance.
A long beaded necklace, made from small nuggets of pyrite gemstone
Pyrite is an abundant mineral, and is also known as 'fools gold' due to its superficial appearance to genuine gold, when seen in vein form within other minerals (such as lapis lazuli). The name pyrite is derived from the Greek word 'pyr' which means 'fire' - possibly because of pyrites interesting property which enables it to produce sparks when struck hard with other materials such as iron or chert stone. Whilst pyrite has been used as a decorative stone for centuries, it's now uncommon to see it set into jewellery. Care: Pyrite has a hardness of around 6 on the MOHS scale, making it a little too soft for robust everyday wear; it should also be stored away from other gemstones so that the lustrous shine doesn't get scratched, and needs only a gentle wipe with mild soap and water to clean.
A pair of rose quartz gemstone earrings
Often referred to as the 'stone of love', the ethereal pale pink hues of rose quartz have been treasured around the world for thousands of years; beads have been found that date back to ancient Mesopotomia times, the ancient Eygptians believed it had 'anti-aging' properties, and in old Greek mythology it was believed to represent love. Research has shown that rose quartz gets its misty appearance and beautiful colour from microscopic fibrous inclusions of a pink borosilicate mineral related to dumortierite. Like other quartz, the rose variety is a 7 on the MOHS hardness scale, meaning it is durable enough for regular wear. Rose quartz can be used for both the 2nd and 5th anniversary stone, is increasingly used as an alternative birthstone for both January and October, and is the state mineral of South Dakota, USA.
A close up of some golden rutile quartz gemstone beads
Rutilated quartz is one of the few gemstones desired for its inclusions! The shimmering hair-like particles (called rutile needles or silk) contained within clear quartz are caused by traces of the mineral rutile. It has a hardness on the MOHS scale of 7, and is loved by gem collectors for it variety and uniqueness - no two rutilated gemstones are the same.
Close up of raw rhodochrosite gemstone beads
One of the lesser known gemstones, rhodochrosite gets its gorgeous pink colours (from pale peach-pink to rich pinky rose) from traces of the element manganese. It's normally quite opaque with beautiful banding patterns, though occasional transparent crystal specimens do exist. Rhodochrosite is a soft gemstone, being only 3.5 to 4 on the MOHS hardness scale) so not really suitable for robust daily wear (less often/ occasional wear is fine), and needs only a gently wipe with a damp cloth to keep clean. Also known as the Inca Rose stone, rhodochrosite is the national gemstone of Argentina, and the state stone of Colorado, USA.
Ruby zoisite (a.k.a anyolite)
A member of the zoisite family (of which tanzanite and thulite are also members), ruby zoisite is a beautiful metamorphic rock which contains chromium-rich green zoisite, hornblend (the dark black-green looking speckles) and red-pink speckles of ruby. Discovered in Tanzania in the 1950s, the stone is a popularly used for ornamental carving, and increasingly desired as a gemstone due to its unique patterns and colouration. It's between 6 to 7 on the MOHS hardness scale, and like tanzanite is only found in Tanzania.
This beautiful ring shows the range of rainbow colours sapphire comes in
Sapphire is one of the true rock stars of the gemstone world, never losing its desirability, always enchanting all who come upon it. Blue is the most famous of all the colours that sapphire appears in, though lesser known sapphire colours such as yellow, green, pink and the rare orange-pink variety (known as padparadscha sapphire) delight gem lovers around the world too. Being a member of the corundum mineral family (red corundum is actually precious ruby, so sapphires and rubies come from the same gem family but contain slightly different elements), they are extremely hard and durable at 9 on the MOHS hardness scale, making them perfect for every day wear, such as in engagement rings or momento jewellery you'd like to wear all the time. Sapphires come in such a variety of beautiful colours and shades, from deep velvets to steely contemporary hues to almost ethereal pastel tones, you'll be totally spoiled for choice on which gemstone you want!
A shimmering serephinite gemstone pendant
Seraphinite is a variety of pale grey-green clinochlore (part of the chlorite mineral group) mined in Siberia, and is well known in gemstone and mineral circles for its ethereal chatoyant shimmering effect when it catches the light. Due to its softness (only 2 - 4 on the MOHS scale) seraphinite has been carved into decorative objects since prehistoric times; more recently it has become an unusual yet increasingly popular gemstone to collect and own. Serephinite should always be stored in a soft cloth away from other gemstones to prevent scratching, and it needs only a gentle wipe clean with mild soap and water (drying immediately). Do handle serephenite with care, as it can be easily scratched.
A solitaire ring set with a small yellow sphene gemstone
Sphene (also known as titanite, due to its titanium content) is one of the lesser know gemstones, and until quite recently was more often found in gemstone and mineral collections than in jewellery. It comes in a variety of colours, including yellow, green, black and brown. Despite being known as 'the gemstone with more sparkle and fire than a diamond' it never caught on in jewellery circles due to it's softness; it's only 5 to 5.5 on the MOHS scale. This makes it rather unsuitable for everyday wear (occasional wear is fine) and it should be stored and handled with care. Sparkling sphene is a gemstone beloved by true gemstone connoisseurs - many who feel that no gem collection is complete without one!
Unusual gold ring set with five small trilliant cut tanzanite gemstones
Tanzanite (blue zoisite) is a stunning blue to blue-purple gemstone which is well known to jewellery lovers, yet often unheard of to people outside of jewel and gem circles. Only discovered in the late 1960s, it is a one location gemstone, which means it is only found in one place in the world, near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. More usually known as 'blue zoisite' in mineralogy study, tanzanite is a member of the zoisite mineral family, and gets its fabulous colour from traces of vanadium; interestingly, when it was first mined, the high end jeweler's who had fallen in love with the stone felt that 'blue zoisite' was a rather underwhelming name for such an amazing gem, and renamed it 'tanzanite' in honour of the country it was discovered in. Being 6 to 7 on the MOHS hardness scale (and naturally a little brittle) means that tanzanite is not as durable as the harder gemstones such as topaz or ruby; it's not a stone that particularly enjoys being worn all day every day, and generally prefers to be carefully worn on lovely days out and special occasions. A light clean with mild detergent and lukewarm water is all that's needed to keep your tanzanite clean, and it's a gem that should be stored carefully away from other stones to prevent scratching.
Thulite is an opaque pink variety of the mineral zoisite (of which tanzanite and anyolite are other members), and gets its beautiful colour from traces of manganese. Not often seen set in jewellery, thulite is around 6.5 on the MOHS hardness scale, and is found in North America, Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and parts of Europe, including Norway, where it is the national stone of the country.
Above, a pair of large teardrop natural tiger's eye gemstone earrings. Below, a stunning dyed multi coloured tiger's eye long beaded necklace,
Tiger's-Eye is a fascinating beige brown gemstone that has an exquisite shimmering effect (called chatoyancy) when it catches the light. Thanks to a huge deposit that was found in Africa, tiger's eye is a now a readily available stone, but in the past it was rare and sought after; ancients Egyptians believed it represented the suns rays, while Roman soldiers used tiger's eye as a protective amulet, especially during battle. Tiger Eye's formation is rather complex and a subject of debate, so I'll point you to this article in Scientific American which explains it far better than I ever could. Tigers eye is one of the few gemstones that specialist dyeing can really add another dimension to; when colour treated it comes in beautiful rich colours of pink, green, royal blue and purple (note there is a natural pale blue-grey variety called hawk's eye, not to be confused with the dyed blue colour which is more of a vivid cobalt blue). At 7 on the MOHS scale, it's a durable gemstone that can be worn regularly, and it is the birthstone for both June and August, and the 18th Wedding anniversary stone.
A chunky unakite gemstone round bead necklace
Unakite is a type of granitic rock, named after the Unakas mountains (in North Carolina/ USA) where it was first discovered. It has a distinctive opaque mottled green-pink colour, caused by its mineral composition of pink othoclase feldspar, green epidote and quartz. No two unakite gems are exactly the same, making it a perfect choice if you are after something unique. Being a fairly hard gemstone (6 - 7 on the MOHS hardness scale) means it can be worn regularly, and the fabulous earthy colouring of unakite makes it both versatile for day and evening wear.
A green vesuvianite isocrase cabochon gemstone ring
One of the more unheard of gemstones, vesuvianite (also known as idocrase) is named after Mount Vesuvius, and was discovered by Abraham Gottlob Werner, the inventor of the mineral/ gem MOHS hardness scale. It's an unusual and stunning stone for gem lovers to add to their collection. Vesuvianite comes in a variety of colours from yellow to pale blue, but is best known as a green gem; from opaque-speckled to clean transparent clear olive tones, visuvianite packs an earthy natural hue. Being 6.5 on the MOHS scale, it benefits from more gentle wear and handling than some other stones, along with being stored away with care. Vesuvianite is the perfect gemstone for those who are looking for a beautiful green gem that's a little more unique and different to what's normally on offer in the jewellery world.
A black onyx beaded bracelet, set with a central focal vivianite cabochon, which due to its exposure to light is now a opaque dark grey green mottled colour
Vivianite is an extremely soft gemstone (only around 2 on the MOHS scale, which means that it can be scratched when pressed hard with a fingernail) and is rare to find set into jewellery. When mined, vivianite is naturally quite transparent, but it quickly turns to dark grey/ black/ green or blue colours on exposure to sunlight. This fascinating collectors gemstone should be stored away from other jewellery, well wrapped in the soft material, and protected from sunlight. Vivianite jewellery is for true gemstone and mineral conoisseurs, and is best worn for safe special occasions only, due to its softness.